What's In A Name?
Like many other isolated peaks, Mt. Diablo is steeped in lore - much of it involving the mountain's name.
On a 1824 map, "M. del Diablo" signifies a Christian Indian village, not a peak. The reference to "diablo" or devil can be traced back to 1804 or 1805, when a Spanish military expedition visited the area in search of runaway missions Indians.
At a willow thicket several miles northeast of here, (near present-day Buchanan Field) the soldiers encountered a village of Chupcan people and surrounded it. But that night, evidently all the Indians escaped. Angry and confused, the Spanish called the site "Monte del Diablo" or Thicket of the Devil." Later English-speaking newcomers mistakenly applied the title to this prominent East Bay peak. A linguistic accident thus gave California its Devil Mountain.
General Mariano Vallejo's account was somewhat different. In an 1850 version, Vallejo placed the incident at the foot of Mt. Diablo, claiming that the Spanish were routed when an "unknown personage" or "evil spirit" appeared. In 1914 Vallejo's son, Platon, made his father the hero who lassoed this "agent of his master, the devil."
The Mount Diablo Survey Marks
With its unobstructed view, Mt. Diablo's summit has long been an important reference point for land surveys in the far west. In 1851, Col. Leander Ransome began subdividing the public lands by establishing the Mt. Diablo initial point. From this point, lines were extended north, south, east and west forming a survey grid that covers most of northern California and all of Nevada.
Mount Diablo State Park
On August 2, 1921 - with Senator W. Starkey as the main supporter - a bill was signed into law creating a state park on top of Mt. Diablo. In 1931, Mt. Diablo was re-dedicated as a unit of the newly born State Division of Beaches and Parks.
The Summit Building
Between 1933 and 1942 Civilian Conservation Corps workers transformed the young park constructing roads and trails, ranger residences, and many of the camp and picnic facilities used by visitors today. This stone summit building is literally the CCC's crowning achievement on Mt. Diablo.